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Let's Get Real, Shall We?

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Well, it seems I have your attention right now. And, because of that, there are some thoughts I'd like to share with all of you that are deeply personal...things I have not shared with even my closest SparkFriends up until now. I hope you don't mind if we go a little deeper and a little darker today, but I promise we'll come out in the light.

The reason I want to do this is because there is such a momentum with my blogs right now and, I suppose, with my life in general. I fear that you will think that I am doing all of this on sheer willpower. And that you will become discouraged if you can't seem to muster the willpower to make lasting changes in your own health. I want you to know that this burst of energy that I've been seeing is not based on willpower (more explanation in a bit). I'm beyond thrilled that I can encourage and motivate so many of you, but I've been hearing murmurings from discouraged friends. And I have taken them to heart.

The most touching was from a dear friend from high school. She wrote:

"I'm inspired by your dedication to your new, healthy lifestyle. I'm jealous that I'm struggling to get there myself. I'm happy that you're accomplishing such amazing things and loving your life! I'm angry that I'm struggling to get there myself. I'm delighted that you look and feel amazing! I'm disappointed that I'm struggling to get there myself. Oh, did I mention that I'm struggling?

I wish I could find out what is wrong in my head. I still can't stop making poor choices when it comes to food and I really struggle physically to complete any kind of workout. I'm extremely angry at myself for letting my health get to this point and I'm frustrated that I keep bouncing back and forth between healthy and non-healthy choices.

I just want to tell you that I truly admire you for continually making healthy choices and I pray that I will get there someday, that I will have the strength to overcome my food addiction, that I will have the strength to stop pitying myself."

Oh, honey...I see you! And I so relate to what you are saying. I want to share my darkest moments...those times that have led me to this point. And, it truly is a journey. And guess what? This might be where you are right now...and you have only good things to look forward to in your health journey, my friend.

Let me start by admitting that I grew up in a family of addiction. My parents (and all subsequent step-parents) were all drug addicts. In addition, my mother was bi-polar and I grew up as the oldest of 5. As children, we saw horrific things that no child should see, at the hands of domestic abuse. We were never physically abused, but we were most certainly emotionally and verbally abused. But, I had to hold it together because I was the protector. Frankly, I'm shocked that I never developed an addiction to any substance like marijuana or tobacco or alcohol. I firmly believe the hand of God has been on my life since I was a child.

However, this does not mean I haven't struggled with addiction. I have been addicted to more benign things: Coca-Cola, fast food, Facebook. Looking at this list almost makes me laugh...except that any kind of addiction results in too much time spent on that thing...and it damages relationships. And that is not funny.

That being said, I do honestly feel that my genetic propensity toward addiction is partly why I have seen success in my diet and exercise program this time. I suppose I have, if you will, traded addictions. Talk about taking lemons and making lemonade! Health is not a terrible addiction to have.

Still, this is why I am SO focused on listening to my body. Because, if it gets out of hand, it could lead to injuries, obsession, eating disorders. I'm not naive enough to think that I'm immune to the possibility of these things. But I'm being smart about all of it...and paying attention and staying alert. The moment it becomes an unhealthy obsession is the moment I will need to take a step back and re-evaluate some things.

I've talked about my roller skating accident a bit - usually from a positive standpoint (thank God I can walk, etc.) But I haven't really shared the defining moments from that experience...that really do fuel what I'm doing today. In fact, I haven't shared this with anyone.

When the accident occurred, I was in a crowded roller rink with plenty of little kids watching. My sister and I were doing great...she was teaching me some T-stops in the middle of the rink. It can only be described as a freak accident. In less than a second, I was on the floor, holding my shattered elbow bone so it wouldn't come out of my skin and unable to move because my wrist and ankle were also broken. The time spent waiting for the ambulance felt like an hour. I knew that every kid in that place was watching in horror...and their moms were thinking, "My kid will NEVER go roller skating again!" I tried not to scream because I didn't want to scare them, but it's a lot of pain for a person to bear at once.

Luckily, I have had 3 kids naturally. I'll tell you what...pregnancy breathing is a lifesaver and really got me through that wait for the ambulance. The other thing that got me through was my sister's voice. She just kept talking to me and I didn't let her stop. Her voice carried me through that entire night. I refused to open my eyes, because I didn't want to see the damage...for fear I'd go hysterical. So, my eyes were shut for hours. (I hope that I can be that voice that carries some of you through your darkness.)

Still, I was thinking, "It's just a broken arm. I'll go back to work on Monday and I'll be embarrassed but it'll heal and I'll still try out for derby in July." Cut to the emergency room, where it felt like we had to wait FOREVER to see an orthopedic surgeon. X-rays, a million nurses, lights and voices. Still...my sister's voice through every moment. I remember I had finally calmed down (probably drugs) and gotten the pain under control. I was OK. Then, the nurse came out and said, "Leah, I need to talk to you. You need to know that this is bad. Real bad. Your recovery will be long. You will need a lot of help when you get home." You guys, I knew at that point that I had 5 broken bones, but I just hadn't thought about what that meant. As she was talking, I completely lost it. I mourned the fact that I wouldn't be going back to work for weeks (turned into 3 months) and that I would be a huge burden on my family and friends. I hate to be a burden.

Surgery was successful. Recovery in the hospital...well, it was so rough. Ok, maybe I lied a bit earlier about no drug addictions. If I could get an IV of Dilaudid for use at anytime, I would be ALL over that. That stuff was FANTASTIC. And, man, I sure did need it. Most of the time, I had friends and family there to keep me company. But at night, people went home. I don't know why I woke up every single night at 4am. Like clockwork. But I did.

And one night...I woke up...and wasn't prepared for this thought to hit me: "Your roller derby career is over before it even began." This was a huge moment for me. I had been hardcore training and working out for 3 months prior - 6 days a week - and had lost 15 lbs. I WANTED this. When I realized that there wasn't any hope for it, my soul mourned its loss. I really was hysterical. ALL that work...all those 5am workouts...all that pain...for what? Nothing. I was SO upset, I was sobbing to the point of hyperventilating and my body was shaking. The nurse ran in and I tried to explain but I couldn't. All I could do was cry. She thought I was in pain physically, but I wasn't. It was a deep soul pain. Thank God for her...she brought a warmed blanket and it really helped to calm me. And I drifted off to sleep.

I've already shared in a previous blog about the recovery physically. It was long and difficult. But emotionally, I shut down. I slipped into my normal depression (thanks for passing that on, Ma) and I distinctly remember telling myself one day, "I will never be able to do anything fun again. I will never be able to play a sport. Forget skiing. I can't run. I can barely walk. I can't even do softball. There is nothing I can do physically anymore. For the rest of my life."

Look...I know it's hard sometimes to see successes all over SparkPeople. While they are motivating and so encouraging, they can also feel like a knife just stabbing you in the heart. But, if you are feeling that way right now, I'm here to tell you...we have ALL been there. You aren't alone. And you CAN push through it. Personally, I needed some help in the form of medication. There is no shame in that...it really helped me and got me to a point where I was positive enough to be able to think, "You know...maybe I could walk a bit."

You're not alone. You can do this. You REALLY can. Just don't give up. Just keep going. Please keep going.

I watched a video blog this morning and literally got the chills because this guy (one of my favorites on SparkPeople) was talking to exactly this issue of feeling discouraged. I know it's 8 minutes long, but you guys...if you are discouraged, I promise this will encourage you. You really should check it out.


All that to say...I'm not doing this from willpower alone. I'm doing this from a place of pain, where I endured quite a lot of emotional turmoil and gained some strength from going through the dark places. Your struggles can and will be used to fuel your future successes.

When I cross that finish line tomorrow, it will be a victory in the face of my accident. It will signify that I am no longer defined by my past or my limitations.

I know we hear this a lot, but it's the truth...if I can do this, so can you. And we can do this together.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thank you!
    2176 days ago
    Very inspirational! You are correct in the past trauma fueling the present success. I have many traumas that have made me out to be the strong willed survivor I am today. So nice to hear a story that I can relate to. Run girl, run!!!
    2177 days ago
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    2182 days ago
    A very inspiring blog! Thank you!...and Happy Memorial Day! emoticon
    2183 days ago
    Thanks for providing me inspiration when I needed it the most...
    2183 days ago
    Wow, thanks for being so open and sharing your story with us. A person just doesn't realize what someone has gone through until they hear "the real story" behind the story. You have overcome so much already. Keep up your great work.
    2183 days ago
  • KSM1634
    Thank you for sharing. This blog is right on the money for me and where I am in my getting healthy journey. It is funny how we can here the same message from many sources. Just this morning the Pastor was speaking on how dissatisfaction can be your inspiration for change
    2183 days ago
  • JULIA1154
    Thank you for your thoughtful and helpful blog.
    2183 days ago
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    2183 days ago
    Amen, my father was bipolar; not an easy life at all. In fact, mine sounds quite similar. Good for you and all the positive steps you're taking to turn lemons into lemonade. Thank you for sharing.
    2183 days ago
    A heart felt thank- you
    2183 days ago
    Thank you for sharing, as you can see by the responses we are here to support you. My ex-husband was bi-polar had both alcohol and prescription addictions, unfortunately he past away at the age of 43 (only 3 years). Always look forward and not back....Hugs, Josée
    2183 days ago
    Thank you for sharing....
    2183 days ago
    This blog is so full of insightful truths. It certainly confirms we all have our dark moments and times of discouragement, but what is so important is we can get through them, accept our losses and go on. Weight loss, weight management will always be a work in progress for me. This blog was inspiring to me; thanks for posting!

    2183 days ago
    What incite, with your drive, determination and positive mental attitude you are already a success. Liked your honesty and openness. Keep the FAITH! emoticon emoticon
    2183 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your pain and your victory overcoming it! I can relate to a lot of your story. I definitely substituted addictions the last time I lost 40 lbs I substituted exercise and healthy snacks for my tobacco addiction. It worked for about a year. Then through my own emotional turmoil and dealing with my husband's diagnosis of terminal cancer, I switched back to my original addiction. :( I have just recently realized that when my Pooh Bear's time here on earth is over, I will still be here, still morbidly overweight and addicted but without him here to support me. I made a change! I am going to do this! For me! I deserve it! I still struggle with depression about his cancer, I still struggle with my addiction to tobacco, but I have made permanent changes to my lifestyle and way of eating that will benefit me in the long run! Thanks again for sharing your story. :)
    2183 days ago
    Amazing story!!! Thank you for sharing it!!!
    2183 days ago
    Thanks for sharing, beautiful blog and I will check out the vlog too!
    So happy for you that you're in a great place now, and I loved the what you said about "health being an addition" that's a great way to think!
    2183 days ago
    Awesome! Thank you for shairng that. Yes it is hard when all you see are success and you feel like why can everyone else do it but not me. emoticon I am glad that you told us that it all has not been easy for you and that you have your dark moments as well.

    2183 days ago
  • LINDA7668
    Thank you so much! Although I am losing the weight and getting healthier every day, I still doubt myself. I've never felt that I've had the willpower to do this and always expected to be fat for the rest of my life. I feel better seeing that someone else has lacked willpower at some point.
    2183 days ago
    Thank you.
    2184 days ago
    You sound like are doing the weight loss the "Inside Out" way...the way it needs to be done if it is going to last.

    I too have no will power this time around, only desire and intent. It is so much less intense and "brutal" this time around and so much easier due to inspiring stories like you!

    No jealously from me, only appreciation, because I know I CAN have what you have!

    Keep reminding me of that! Keep sharing!

    2184 days ago
  • KIPPER15
    Thank you for a great blog, very personal and very honest. It always helps to know that we are not alone in our problems and set backs. emoticon
    2184 days ago
    2184 days ago
  • DMANN104
    emoticon Great blog! I have been really enjoying reading your blogs - keep up the good work! emoticon
    2184 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    emoticon for posting !
    2184 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your story. The things you say mean a lot to all of us. It just all makes sense. I'm sorry that you went through such pain in your childhood and with your accident. I'm glad you're better now. And thank goodness you are breaking the cycle and not passing on the abuse to your children. That's a huge thing that you are doing in your life. Anyway...thank you for sharing.
    2184 days ago
    Thanks for being so real and raw and vulnerable and letting us all know that its okay to not be 100% cheery sunshine all the time. We can still muddle through and one day we'll be the victors. Best wishes tomorrow - can't wait to read the report!
    2184 days ago
    great blog. There are days I need to see stories like that.
    2184 days ago
    Thank you for such a powerful blog. The trauma I'm recovering from is very different--childhood sexual abuse that occurred decades ago, but has fueled PTSD into middle age. It doesn't really matter that the challenges are different. Choosing to make changes in thinking and behavior that lead to greater health and wholeness is what we are all here to do.

    I applaud your successes and your willingness to share your experiences. I wish you continued success and joy on your journey.

    Blessed Be, Amanda emoticon

    PS: You might enjoy my Be a Warrior blog.
    2184 days ago
    Great blog, keep up the great writing!
    2184 days ago
    2184 days ago
  • HEARTS116
    Great blog!
    2184 days ago
    Good blog.

    I can relate to whole injury issue. Mine is nowhere as bad as your injury. I flipped a 4-wheeler onto my leg about a month ago and am still healing. No broken bones. But, no intense cardio until all the bruising on my leg is gone. So, I "walk it out" in pool.
    2184 days ago
    Your accident story made me tear up! Through our struggles we do one of two things: fall deeper downwards or emerge stronger than we ever thought we could be. Congrats for emerging as a fighter!
    2184 days ago
  • JIBBIE49
    emoticon What a star, being featured again in the SPark Mail.
    2184 days ago
    Hey girl!

    We are friends on Facebook, in the weight loss group....

    I just have to say that you gave me a HUGE shot in the arm today - - - and it was exactly what I needed! Your journey has brought you to where you are today - celebrate it and know that there is nothing you can't achieve!

    Here's to many more 5k's and your time will only get BETTER!

    Gina emoticon
    2184 days ago
  • CICELY360
    I enjoy your blogs.
    2184 days ago
  • MOMMY445
    thanks for sharing such an amazing blog!
    2184 days ago
    2184 days ago
    Funny how we sometimes get just what we need. This week, I've been lamenting the fact that I have to lay off some of my favorite cardio activity for awhile as a result of a leg injury. Nothing anywhere near as serious as what you went through, although I've been through something very similar over 2 decades ago.

    It put my relatively minor injury into perspective. It's something that will heal in a few weeks - not months - and a Spark Friend sent me a link to exercises for people with mobility limitations to help me keep going while it heals. It even includes a seated cardio workout.

    How lucky am I that someone pointed me in the right direction the moment I needed it? And how blessed am I that this post was here the moment I was feeling my lowest? Heck, I lost 2 pounds this week, in spite of my leg - I have no room to squawk!

    Thanks for writing just what I needed, when I needed it.

    2184 days ago
    Wow, this is what makes others see that they too can change and transformed to new beginnings.You have guts to share ....we thank you. emoticon emoticon
    2184 days ago
    Thank you for your wonderful blog. I needed to read it today. You're the best! Good luck!
    2184 days ago
    Thank you for your honesty...it takes a lot of courage to be so honest!
    2184 days ago
    Thanks for sharing and all the best
    2184 days ago
    Thank you for this. Good luck with the race. emoticon
    2184 days ago
    Yeah, pain and darkness and the trudge through them toward the faintest glimmer of light ahead - been there, done that. Maybe will again someday - who knows what life holds? God willing, I will grow through it all whatever comes! You are an inspiration! Thank you for blogging about your terrible and wonderful trial and comeback!
    2184 days ago
  • NEWMOM20121
    Thank you so much for sharing. Wonderful
    2185 days ago
    Thanks for sharing on such a personal level. Yes, we can do it!
    2185 days ago
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    2185 days ago
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